Right Wing Turn in Latin America?

Matías Vernengo

Regular Triple Crisis contributor Matias Vernengo reflects on the recent presidential election results from Argentina. See his Triple Crisis blog post about the main issues in the election, written just before the run-off round, here.

Just a brief follow up on my recent post on Argentina. By a relative small margin the right wing candidate, Mauricio Macri, won the election. As noted in the previous post the most dangerous result would be an attack on the human rights policies followed by the current government, that have led to jail more than 400 human rights violators (noted that several were acquitted by lack of proofs as it should happen in a civilized society; so this was not witch hunt).

La Nación, the main conservative daily, that benefited economically from the last dictatorship and supported it, had an editorial demanding an end to ‘revenge.’ They called the left of center militants the true terrorists of the 1970s, even though the vast majority had committed no violent crime (and even those that did commit crimes should have been prosecuted according to the law, not tortured, and summarily executed). Macri has suggested that he will not stop the judiciary system from prosecuting human rights violators. But he made it clear that this will not be part of government policy.

Devaluation is in everybody’s minds, and is likely to happen, although no run on the peso for now. There is an external restriction now (and for the last couple of years, but as I noted before there is no external crisis per se, so a maxi-devaluation is a question of choice, not necessity). Also, while it is true that the neoliberal policies of the 1990s are back with the new administration, it is worth remembering that the conditions now are very different than back then. The neoliberal turn in Latin America and Argentina in the 1990s followed a lost decade, with low growth, high unemployment and even higher inflation. Worse, ideologically the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet bloc had given legitimacy to neoliberal ideas, and the notion that history had ended. Only market friendly policies worked.

This time around the right turn in LA comes after a global crisis of capitalism, from which we have not completely emerged, with the US and Europe, in particular, in dire straits, and in the case of Argentina with a society organized and ready to defend its interests after a decade of growth and improving income distribution. Let alone that congress is in the hands of the opposition. My two cents for now.

Originally posted at Naked Keynesianism.

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